Daniil Kvyat laments not understanding the car better at start of 2020 F1 season which would have allowed for better results as water pressure loss resulted in DNF for Pierre Gasly.

Kvyat was a shock candidate for the podium at the dramatic end of the F1 Emilia Romagna GP at Imola, the Russian driver’s AlphaTauri looming large in the mirrors of eventual third-place finisher Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo, who was surprised to see him.

Sitting seventh at the restart with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen having crashed out, Kvyat passed Racing Point’s Sergio Perez, whose cold tyres proved disadvantageous. After Red Bull’s Alexander Albon spun, the Russian earned another position.

He subsequently overtook Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc around the outside of Piratella in a bold move. After this, he set off in pursuit of Ricciardo. His efforts proved unsuccessful – with the Australian having warmed his tyres by the time Kvyat was in striking distance – but would nonetheless earn him a P4 finish.

“It was good race, was good, strong result,” said Kvyat to TV media. “And of course now I’m talking and thinking more about the podium, because it was so close, you know. Really, really difficult on the restart, but I managed to do some good moves. By the time I did overtake other cars, Daniel just warmed up his tyres. And it was very hard.

“Very close until the end, but… I had to do some brave racing. I had some fun. Regarding the move on Leclerc, I said ‘I go for it now’, you know, after the restart. I felt the confidence, I like the old school tracks. Maybe I’m just an old school guy in the wrong time,” summed up Kvyat, whose position at AlphaTauri seems still in danger despite the fourth place result at Imola.

The 26-year-old didn’t hesitate to stress the importance of such a strong result for his morale, or that of the garage around him. “I believe always more and more in our potential,” said Kvyat. “As a team, and me as a driver. I feel better in the car through the year. You know, there are some things to understand – I mean, my side of the garage understands now – I wish we understood them a bit more in the beginning.

“For instance, how to make the car work a bit better, but we really got there, since Spa it was a good step. My teammate, Pierre has been very fast this year. But since Spa, we were really close and very competitive. It was a good race today. It’s very important for me to get this weight out, like very strong result, very strong race, and I’m happy,” Kvyat added, as he moved to 13th with 26 points, with Gasly in 10th with 63.

His teammate Gasly seemed on for an equally miraculous result, before he was forced to retire with mechanical issues where he faced a weld failure which resulted in loss of water pressure. It was a result that he says was difficult to stomach.

“This one is quite difficult to take,” he began. “I had a great start and tried to go alongside Lewis, but he decided to close the door quite hard and I had to back off and lost one position to Daniel, but after that, I felt really good in the car and we were running in P5. The guys spotted a drop of water pressure on the laps to the grid before the race, they tried everything to fix it but unfortunately, we had to retire the car after a few laps.

“It’s very sad because there was a big opportunity for us. The whole weekend went so well, it was the best practice and the best Qualifying we’ve had and the car felt very strong from the beginning. It’s never nice to retire, but it’s especially tough here in Imola for our home race, because we knew there was a potential top-five result on the table.”

At the same time, team principal Franz Tost was all praise for Kvyat, while rued the issue for Gasly. “We enjoyed qualifying, as it was our most successful one this season so far, finishing P4 with Pierre and P8 with Daniil,” he said. “Both of them had a good start to the race. Pierre got blocked by Hamilton before the first corner so Ricciardo was able to overtake him, which put Pierre back into fifth.

“Unfortunately, a radiator failure put a stop to his race. It’s a shame as I’m sure he could have achieved a very good result today. As for Daniil Kvyat, he had a good race, he spent quite a while in eighth position until we decided to bring him in on lap 14 while he was in sixth, to put him on the Base tyre. From then on, he did very fast lap times and was one of the fastest on track. He was able to control Sainz quite well and he was closing the gap to Albon.

“On lap 55, the Safety Car was deployed and we decided to bring him in for the Option tyre, which was a fantastic decision from the strategy group because this allowed Daniil to overtake Perez and Albon immediately before the first corner, followed by Leclerc a few corners later. At that stage, Daniil was in P4, but unfortunately, the race finished too early – he would have needed another couple of laps to overtake Ricciardo. Nevertheless, fourth is the best race result for Daniil this year, and the team showed a very good performance in both Qualifying and the race.”

Here’s Daniel Ricciardo on surprise by Daniil Kvyat